What is Pilates?
Pilates was created in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates. He believed that mental and physical health are interrelated and created a method to coordinate the mind, body and spirit. He created a set of principles alongside exercises and specialist equipment to create opportunities for functional movement which he called ‘Contrology’. Over the years his work proved to be a powerful tonic to modern day life, which is becoming increasingly sedentary, and Pilates gained a reputation for physical rehabilitation alongside mental wellbeing.
At Soul Pilates, we align with the original ethos that Joseph Pilates created alongside the latest in movement science. If Joe was around today we’re sure he would constantly be striving to learn more so he could teach in greater depth, and we do too!
We run 1:1 sessions, which are predominantly used to support clients with on-going pain or health concerns, alongside small group specialist classes. We’ve gained a reputation for our excellent teaching standards which is something we’re really proud of, and as a team we are constantly learning and fascinated by the body and what it is capable of.
Our approach at Soul is to provide a mindful movement experience, as this connection of the body with the mind is a powerful medicine for many of our modern day health concerns. The power of movement constantly astounds us and our vision is to help our clients move better so they can feel better.
Pilates is endorsed by doctors, physical therapists, professional athletes and dancers around the world. Pilates is excellent for the rehabilitation of injuries and relieving chronic pain.
What is the difference between a 1:1 and a class?
Ideally we would see everyone for a 1:1 to start with, but we certainly would like to see you for a personal session if you’re currently experiencing physical discomfort, have an on-going condition (such as Parkinsons, MS), have recently had surgery or have on-going rehabilitation needs.
It can sometimes be easy to forget why you turned your passion into your career. Pilates was something which I loved so much during my career in marketing. It provided me with ease, strength and tone in my body but also space and calm in my mind. That’s why after many years as a Pilates Class regular, I decided to train with Polestar Pilates, initially just to learn more, and subsequently my love grew and I ultimately turned it into my full time career and my own studio which is soon to have 2 locations and 12 teachers.
But like many passions that you turn into your career it can be all too easy to forget the reasons why you really loved it in the first place. Luckily this never really happened for me. I have kept up my movement practice which I still love and feel inspired by, plus I get to be one of those people who really does love their job and I literally feel like I never work a day in my life. I think I get more out of teaching that my clients get out of being taught!
But every now and again I’m reminded of just how amazing the power of Pilates is and this happened just last week in a big way. Now in my 40th week of pregnancy with my second child I’m all too aware of the changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy, which whilst an amazing work of nature, doesn’t mean that your body doesn’t scream at you, sometimes a little and sometimes a LOT during those 40 weeks (or in my case a little longer!).
Have you been hearing the word ‘fascia’ bandied about as you try and get your downdog on or swim into your updog and thought ‘wtf is this teacher talking about?’
Well my friends, today is your lucky day, time for an explanation of what fascia is and why we’re all getting excited about it.
By Clare Shaw, Soul PHiiT & Soul Yoga Instructor
Pilates is an incredibly popular form of exercise that was developed in the early-1900’s, but didn’t make it over to England until the 1970’s. Since then it’s been knocking around on the fitness scene and been a constant presence in people’s workout routines.
Focusing on core strength and stability, it utilises controlled movements and breathing to build strength, coordination, balance and improve alignment.
Where did Pilates come from?
It was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German bodybuilding enthusiast who focused his life on becoming fit and healthy after a sickly childhood. He began a new approach to fitness which combined body conditioning using body weight and apparatus, such as the Reformer, which is still used in studios today! He extensively researched many different forms of exercise; from Ancient Roman exercise routines to modern day fitness, such as gymnastics, and from tai chi to meditation.
In the 1920’s Joseph Pilates opened his first studio in New York and his methods were a hit! Especially with dancers - they found it a perfect way to recover from injuries and strengthen their weak spots. It grew in popularity before being brought over to the UK where the first Pilates studio opened in London in 1970. And, as they say, the rest is history!
A beginners guide to Pilates
Hundreds of studios and venues across the UK now offer Pilates and they range in a broad spectrum of styles. Have you ever been curious to try it out? We’ve collaborated with Soul Pilates, a quality Pilates studio based in the centre of Bristol, to bring you an in-depth beginners guide to Pilates. See what it’s all about and if it’s something you would want to give a go!
Guest Post from MoveGB
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative arthritis; it occurs commonly in the joints which weight bear causing them to become painful resulting in limitations in movement and function.
The joints which can be affected are the knees, hips and feet specifically the big toe along with joints which are used a lot in daily life such as the hands, back and neck.
‘Around a third of people aged 45 years and over in the UK, a total of 8.75 million people, have sought treatment for osteoarthritis’ (Arthritis research, UK).
In the synovial joints such as the hip, knee, toes, fingers and wrists the structure of these joints allows movement of two adjoining bones.
By Rachel Ross, Soul Pilates Teacher
“Pull your shoulders back and down”, “engage your core”, “sit up straight”… we’ve probably all heard these kinds of cues when it comes to finding ways to improve our posture. But let me let you into a little secret: our posture is not something which is consciously controlled - that means you can’t think your way to better posture. By looking to control our body’s position with these thoughts we unknowingly often just create more tension and stiffness in our body which ultimately leads to more postural problems and therefore increased body discomfort.
It might be interesting to know that your pelvis is twisted, or your shoulders are rounded, or you have an increased curve in your lower back BUT the truth is this is not information your brain can actually do anything with. In my experience when people try to correct these issues by dropping one side of their pelvis, standing in a different way or holding their shoulders back, they start to experience more, not less problems.
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder
We are perfectly designed to run. The problem is we have modified our lifestyle the point where our physical activity has been reduced to the absolute bare minimum. Basically we live our lives sitting in a chair and that negatively affects our health. We then try to undo this by heading out for a run only to feel sore and often get injured.
We now know that a sedentary lifestyle kills more people than obesity, hypertension and diabetes combined. This is a staggering fact and one which is easily reversible. Many people think running is damaging to their health but the reality is the sofa is far more dangerous to our health and our bodies!
By Nic, Studio Founder & Runity Coach
Are you foam rolling your IT band? Does it hurt in a satisfying way but not really changing how your IT band actually feels? Here we show you an adapted Pilates exercise using a band which lengthens your IT band, inner thighs, ankles and glutes. You will literally feel the difference instantly!
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder
Studio owner Nic takes you through a 20 minute core workout in this video you can follow at home. But first she explains what "the core" is, (and what it isn't), and why strengthening your core is not simply about abdominal work and sits ups!
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder
As we head into a New Year, I've found myself having a few conversations recently with clients who have been asking me about my own health journey, why I become a Pilates Instructor and my personal road to recovery from a car accident and subsequent chronic pain. All these conversations seemed to surround the concept of 'wellness'.
So what is 'wellness'? How do you achieve it? And what’s the secret to being well, to being happy and, to coin a slightly overused phase these days, "living your best life"?
I think I need to be pretty upfront about this and say that honestly, I don’t have a single answer. But the truth is no-one really does, despite the marketing hype promising you health, wellness and a body like a bikini clad Instagram star. I believe the reason no one has “the answer” is that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to being well, to being happy and to living any sort of great life.
In my experience, both with myself and from with working with clients with varying complex needs and backgrounds, what I’ve realised that ‘wellness’, or as I like to think of it - "being well", is a bit like baking a cake.
First you need a set of ingredients. And as someone who really does like cake, I can tell you, there are many, many options when it comes to cake and this is a very good thing! Some recipes you try and they work really well, some need a bit of you own personal tweaking, and some spectacularly fail to rise, or stick to the tin.
I think wellness is a bit like this. It’s not simply about Pilates, or meditation, or what you’re eating, or how you feel about yourself, or what childhood you had, or what exercise you’re doing, or if you love or hate your job, or the downtime you take, or the people you surround yourself with. To be honest it’s a combination of all these things and a whole heap more. These are all ingredients to the recipe of wellness. And the amount of each ingredient required varies hugely from person to person. We are not all created equal and I think this is what provides the rich tapestry of humanity.
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder
We love to see you working on what you've learned in your sessions at home. Here are some handy video tutorials on the key points we're looking for in each of these common Pilates homework exercises.
By Nic Lenny, Studio Founder
A Video Guide to Dead Bugs / Knee Floats
Did you know that up to 80% of your immune system is found in your gut, and that the health of your digestive system affects your mood, motivation, will power, energy and even your intuition?
From a movement teaching perspective I find the gut / core absolutely fascinating.
I imagine that if you have ever worked out, you would have heard the cue 'tighten your core', 'pull in your belly' 'zip up your pelvic floor' and probably countless more ways to tighten your 'stomach' - unfortunately these really aren't the best cues to truly train your 'core', and in fact can have the unwanted side effects of anxiety, an increase in blood pressure, constipation, a flacid gut, indigestion, increased risk of injury, decrease in flexibility and less ability to absorb force - need I go on?
Guest Post by Rachael Hall, Franklin Method Educator
What is the core anyway?
Well it is way more that the thin layer of abdominal muscles that surrounds your belly. It is your stomach, your intestines, your colon, your kidneys, your psoas, your ql, your diaphragm, your pelvic floor, your spinal muscles - and these beautiful, clever parts work together as a whole, in symphony, they communicate with each other, they influence each other and they definitely do not want to be held in a vice regularly by 'tightening your core'.
What’s brought you here today? Are you looking to be toned, to be thinner, maybe it’s to not be in pain or are you seeking a bigger (or a smaller) bum…?
When I was in the planning for the opening of the Soul Pilates studio three years ago, I looked around at the wider industry and these were the kinds of messages I was constantly bombarded with. And, from a marketing point of view this is the kind of message that sells. People mostly want to be a better version of themselves it seems. But this wasn't my vision and it wasn’t my reality.
Rewind 8 years and I was living in Leeds as a Digital Director for a prestigious marketing agency. I drove a convertible, ran for my train in sky scraper heels, flew between Leeds and Geneva for meetings, went to the gym almost every day and weighted 2 stone more than I do now.
There are certain parts of the body that always get more attention than others.
The pelvic floor (especially in the female demographic) is definitely a popular area of discussion in pilates, yoga and physical therapy. This is a good thing as so many women and men suffer from pelvic floor issues.
There are whole practices dedicated specifically to pelvic floor health. In pre and post natal pilates sessions it’s very common that the pelvic floor is the central focus ensuring the muscles are strong and well co-ordinated.
In contrast to this, I have also taught thousands of women that have left the hospital after having had a baby or pelvic surgery, with the instructions to 'do their pelvic floor exercises'- with absolutely no clue what that actually means, other than stopping the flow of water?!
In this blog, I aim to give you more support around how to train your pelvic floor to improve continence, pelvic and lower back support, balance, flexibility and even force absorption!
Guest Post by Franklin Educator Rachael Hall
Since having my baby 4 months ago I don't manage to fit in so many workouts in the Soul Pilates studio **sad face**. So my kitchen floor has become my home studio and this 25 minute workout fits nicely with nap time.
This is a great workout to massage your spine whilst challenging your abs using the foam roller. If you don't have a roller you can do this without you just won't have such an intense an experience which is great when you only have a short amount of time.
Nic - Studio Founder